Altar of St Jerome, Vatican BasilicaW ednesday, 11 October 2006


Pope John XXIII's message is still extraordinarily timely today. His
life, his Discourses and his actions bring us to the heart of the faith
and the heart of Christian commitment.

As we know, one of Pope John's most important decisions was to
convoke the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which was
inaugurated on 11 October 1962 here in St Peter's Basilica.

I was present (indeed, by a fortunate circumstance, it was I who
organized the distribution of the first Council Documents "sub
peculiari secreto" to the Council Fathers!), and I remember how the
day unfolded to its extraordinary conclusion in St Peter's Square by

We could recall a wealth of Pope John's teachings and episodes
concerning him, but today I intend to focus on several thoughts
which might be useful in our personal life and spiritual renewal.

The Church, in his view, has a motherly face: her task is to keep "her
arms open to receive everyone". She is a "home for one and all" that
"desires to belong to everyone, and in particular she is the Church of
the poor, like the village fountain", with no distinctions of race or

The Church's holiness and human wisdom are expressed very
clearly in what is called "The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII":

1) Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively
without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I
will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in
my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve
or to discipline anyone except myself.

3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created
to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all
circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5) Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good
reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the
body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about

7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and
if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it
to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two
evils: hastiness and indecision.

9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the
good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in
this world.

10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be
afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed,
for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation
were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

To conclude: here is an all-embracing resolution: "I want to be kind,
today and always, to everyone". In this way, we can put Pope John's
hope for every Christian into practice: "Every believer in this world
must be a spark of light, a core of love, life-giving leaven in the mass:
and the more he is so, the more he will live, in his innermost depths,
in communion with God".

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